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Can you spot the drugs in the teenager's bedroom?


At first sight, it looks just like any other teenager’s bedroom: A cozy bed for sleeping, hamper in the corner with a dirty shirt or two in it, desk with computer for doing homework and a dresser stuffed with clothing, a wallet and whatever other random things were in the person’s pockets earlier that day.

But hidden among the seemingly normal bedroom are numerous red flags and signs of drug use: vape juice in a sunscreen bottle, marijuana behind a picture frame and random pills squirreled away in the tiniest of spots.

The question is, how many simulated drugs can you find? This is the goal of the Hidden in Plain Sight trailer, which is operated by the Ionia County Health Department who recently partnered with Accelerated BSN students from the Michigan State University College of Nursing at a public event.

“It encourages adults to come through and see all the hidden dangers that could be in a teenager’s bedroom,” said Aimee Keefer, personal health director of the Ionia County Health Department. “It’s all about raising awareness for parents and families to combat some of the occurring drug problems we have.”

One parent of a teenager cane through and rated his ability to find all the drugs an “8” out of 10 prior to going into the trailer but came out admitting he was probably closer to a “5.” Binders on a table near the trailer alerted participants as to where all the drugs were hidden.

Assistant Professor Dr. Pallav Deka’s group of eight students worked hard to both market the event through a grassroots initiative by creating fliers and visiting the Farmers Market, Ionia County Fair and businesses in town. In addition, they conducted research assessing participants’ confidence levels both before going into the trailer and after coming out.

“I think there’s a lot the students can take out from this experience, starting with just understanding what the public health needs of a community are,” Deka said. “What’s cool about the project is that it was not just academic in nature but there were some practical implications as well.”

Student John Pacente appreciated the opportunity to experience something different.

“Learning more about this trailer was actually really cool,” Pacente said. “It’s something I think if I were a parent, I’d find it informative, especially because you don’t know sometimes where certain things are, and kids can be secretive sometimes."